Cardinal Brady leads delegation for Church-State structured dialogue meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ministers
A bilateral meeting between representatives of the Catholic Church and the Taoiseach and members of the cabinet took place today in Government Buildings, Dublin. It was the first bilateral meeting to take place with this administration under the Church-State structured dialogue process.
The Church delegation comprised: Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference; Bishop Colm O’Reilly of Ardagh & Clonmacnoise; Bishop John Buckley of Cork & Ross; Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry, Bishops’ Council for Education; Monsignor Gearóid Dullea, Executive Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference; Father Michael Drumm, Chairperson of Catholic Schools Partnership; Dr Nicola Rooney, Bishops’ Council for Justice & Peace; Mr Harry Casey, Executive Administrator of the Commissions and Agencies of the Bishops’ Conference; and Father Timothy Bartlett, Assistant to the President of the Bishops’ Conference.
The Government delegation comprised: An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny TD; Minister for Education & Skills, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD; Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD; Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD, supported by officials from their respective departments.
Issues discussed today during the Church-State structured dialogue process included: protecting human life; child safeguarding; addressing mental health issues in society especially in the context of suicide; civil unrest in Northern Ireland and the threat to the peace process from dissident paramilitaries; the De Silva Report (Pat Finucane); education in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors; the national economy; the vital role of chaplains in hospitals and prisons; justice and peace issues specifically on poverty and social need; the Constitutional Convention; Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See; and Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union.
The meeting was cordial and constructive and lasted for three hours. Special attention was given to a shared concern about the problem of suicide across the island. It was agreed to continue engagement on this issue with a view to enhancing North/South cooperation. Consideration was given to commissioning research, as well as increasing support for clergy, other professionals, and community leaders.
After the meeting Cardinal Brady said, “It is in the common good of Irish society to have in place a vibrant and organised structure where the Catholic Church – as well as other faith groups – can engage with the State in a transparent and respectful manner to establish a shared and supportive approach, as appropriate, when dealing with matters of mutual concern. It is equally important that such a forum exist so that particular matters of concern for either party can also be discussed in detail and in person. Whilst it is in its seminal stage, the operation of this dialogue structure bodes well for the future of Ireland and reflects the maturing character of a truly pluralist State.”
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678